We’ve all had those restless nights – the ones where you toss and turn and look at the clock every five minutes, knowing that the moment when your alarm rings is ticking closer and closer, yet for whatever reason, sleep eludes you. I can’t promise that you’ll never have another sleepless night, but I can let you in on my secret to a good night’s sleep: the sleep pillow.
I first discovered sleep pillows as a little girl. A visit to a local herb farm’s gift store led me to a plush rabbit stuffed with relaxing, calming herbs like chamomile and lavender. When you snuggled the bunny at night, you released the herbs’ aroma, breathed it in, and drifted off into a peaceful sleep. This sleep bunny, which I named Meadow, became one of my favorite childhood toys, and I slept with it every night (sort of like my personal Velveteen Rabbit). Years later, I still have my sleep bunny, but most of the herbal scents have worn off. The herb farm has changed hands and no longer sells sleep bunnies, so wanting a new herb-filled sleep pillow meant I’d have to make one on my own.
The problem was, I wasn’t sure of the exact ingredients to use to create a new sleep pillow – that is, until my mom stumbled across a neat little book called Making Herbal Dream Pillows: Secret Blends for Pleasant Dreams. This small, beautifully illustrated book contains a number of different recipes for your very own sleep pillows, and each recipe is classified according to the type of dream it might produce – stress-reducing dreams, creative dreams, romantic dreams. There is even a recipe for sensual dream pillows (got me thinking about making a Playboy bunny stuffed with sensual dreams mix…teehee!).
Based on the scent of my original sleep bunny, we selected a recipe that seemed closest and tweaked it slightly. The book is super-helpful in that it lists and describes various dried herbs you can use in your dream pillows as well as their herbal properties, and it also has a list of herbs not to use. This way, you can make your own mix if you’re feeling creative. All herbs should be dried before adding them to a dream pillow. Here’s the recipe we chose:
4 parts lavender
2 parts rose petals
2 parts hops
1 part chamomile
1 part lemon balm
We didn’t have dried lemon balm, so we substituted dried mint instead. We had to decide how much “one part” was and settled on a 1/4. So, our mixture had 4 parts lavender (or 1 cup), 1/2 cup rose petals, and so on. This made plenty for two sleep bunnies.
Sourcing some of these ingredients can be challenging. Some are commonly grown – in my neck of the woods, lavender is easy to come by. So are rose petals. If you are picking fresh ingredients, leave some time to dry them – the best way to do this is gather the herbs into a bunch, band them together with a rubber band, and hang them upside down until they are dry. You can also use a food dehydrator to dry herbs (but that’s a post for a different day). Other ingredients, like hops or lemon balm, are harder to find. We found hops at a local beer brewing supply store. You can also try the bulk foods section of your grocery store, which usually has a selection of dried herbs and spices. If you’re lucky enough to have a tea shop in your area, you may try there, too, because many shops let you use their ingredients to mix your own teas – or buy individual ingredients in bulk.
Since we decided to make stuffed animals instead of pillows, we needed a bunny pattern. We used a pattern from Carol’s Zoo, a company which aims to teach children how to sew using simple patterns with only 2 or 3 pieces.
We constructed the bunnies according to the pattern. We stuffed them with regular stuffing except for the stomachs. Here, we sewed two square scraps of fabric together to make a square, filled each square with the herb mixture, and stuffed this mini-pillow inside the rabbits.
Unstuffed bunny next to a square of fabric, which will be filled with the dream pillow mixture.
We were very pleased with the final results. The herb mixture really smells wonderful, and the bunnies are nice and cuddly. Give it a try!